Last year, Maine passed a bill making it a crime to drive a large commercial vehicle of 10,000 pounds or more while on methadone.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Anne Graham, D-North Yarmouth, after a man driving a UPS truck in Naples was killed in December of 2009 when his truck was hit by a utility truck driver who was taking methadone.
Only 17 states have passed laws that make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle if there is a “detectable” level of a prohibited drug in the driver's body, according to a 2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse report.
Those states — Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin — have passed what the institute calls “per se” laws, while other state laws define “drugged driving” as driving when a drug “renders the driver incapable of driving safely” or “causes the driver to be impaired.”
Of these, three states — Nevada, Ohio and Virginia — established specific limits for the presence of intoxicating drugs, while the rest establish a zero tolerance rule with regard to the presence of intoxicating drugs in a person's system.
In addition, 44 states, such as Maine, and the District of Columbia, have implemented Drug Evaluation and Classification Programs, designed to train police officers as Drug Recognition Experts, according to the NIDA.
The program trains police officers to detect characteristics in a person’s behavior and appearance that may be associated with drug intoxication. If the officer suspects drug intoxication, a blood or urine sample is submitted to a laboratory for confirmation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, night-time drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications. More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.